In 2024, Iran is still one of the world’s worst performers in terms of media and press freedom.

The organisation “Reporters Without Borders” begins this year’s report by stating that press freedom is being threatened worldwide by the same people and institutions that are supposed to be the guarantors of press freedom!
While half of the world’s population is taking part in various elections this year, political pressure on the world’s press is increasing. Indicators show that the general trend towards press freedom is declining worldwide. We are witnessing increasing political repression against journalists and independent media.
Reporters Without Borders emphasises that “many governments have tightened their control over social media and the internet by restricting access, blocking user accounts and censoring news and information”.
The organisation also paints a bleak picture of the increasing use of artificial intelligence and points out that the use of this tool to spread false information for political purposes is worrying and can affect electoral processes.
The report, published to mark International Press Freedom Day on May 3rd, expresses concern about the increasing political pressure on the media worldwide, particularly in the Middle East, Iran and Afghanistan.
It emphasises that the political index for assessing media freedom in 2024 is falling in most Middle Eastern states. In Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran in particular, countless journalists are in prison and the suppression of all media continues. The four countries of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran are currently considered the largest prisons for journalists in the world.
The killing of more than 100 journalists by the Israeli army in Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territories and Iran’s fall to 176th place (out of 180 countries) at the bottom of the press freedom rankings, where only Syria, North Korea, Afghanistan and Eritrea score worse, are two key points in the report.
The report also draws attention to the large number of journalists who were imprisoned during and after the “Women-Life-Freedom” movement in Iran. Each of them has to pay a very high bail after their release and is still at risk of being arrested again.
Elsewhere, it states that “journalists and independent media professionals in Iran are constantly confronted with arbitrary arrests and very heavy sentences imposed on them after extremely unfair trials before the revolutionary courts”.
The Midpoint Institute, which is active in the field of journalism education and was founded with the aim of promoting independent reporting in the Middle East and Persian-speaking countries, has identified 226 cases of repression against journalists and media in its annual report on Iran (Iranian year 1402 or 2023-24), including summonses, interrogations, detentions, physical assaults, expulsions and security threats.

The reasons given for the persecution of journalists are the publication of the results of socio-political surveys, criticism of the leader of the Islamic Republic, the government and state institutions, the exposure of corruption as well as reports on poverty and suicides. According to the report, articles about discrimination against women and the compulsory hijab, about participation in the election to the Islamic Council, about security crises and economic problems are particularly severely penalised.
With this joint statement, we, two Iranian human rights organisations based in Vienna, urge the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran:
• to guarantee freedom of expression and information as a human right (Article 19 of the United Nations Charter of Human Rights), which is a prerequisite for a democratic constitutional state and for the effective participation of people in social life, and
• to refrain from any repression, harassment and arrest of journalists as well as to enable independent reporting.

Press freedom ranking 2024 for download:
Index | RSF
Read the full report by Reporters Without Borders:
2024 World Press Freedom Index – journalism under political pressure | RSF
Report of the Midpoint Institute (in Farsi):

Prof. Dr. Siroos Mirzaei
Medical Professionals for Human Rights in Iran – Austria

Dr. Behrouz Bayat
Komitee zur Verteidigung der Menschenrechte im Iran, Österreich

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